Eating foods that contain a variety of fats is a great way to have delicious meals (think avocado in a salad), support health and achieve optimal body composition. However, we have previously been scared of what ‘fat’ would do to us. Correct?
Don’t worry, when fat is eaten in the correct ratios, there is a lot of evidence to support the benefits of fat in your diet. The key is to eat natural sources of fat and go for variety.
1. Avoid processed foods: Processed foods contain trans fats and vegetable fats – These are the evil fats that you want to avoid like the plague.
Trans fats are ‘man-made’ fats that have been chemically altered. They include partially hydrogenated oils and eating them has been closely linked to the development of a number of diseases including heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cancer and neurological problems.
Most common trans-fats are in baked goods such as shop-bought cakes, biscuits and cookies, but also hide in things like cereals and crackers.
Cutting out processed foods will reduce your intake of vegetable oils, which is another bonus.
Also, look out for foods that say they ‘trans-fat free’ as they can still contain less than 0.5g of trans fat per serving – therefore look at the ingredients for the words partially hydrogenated.
2. Eat foods that contain omega-3 fats EPA and DHA frequently: fish, grass fed meat and dairy.
Omega-3 is widely known to be essential to our health, improving insulin signalling to our cells, allowing for better metabolism. They also improve our brain function and lower inflammation. Besides fish, other good sources of omega-3 are pastured raised beef, pork and organic dairy.
It is quite hard to get a good ratio between omega-3 and omega 6 and therefore I recommend taking omega-3 in supplement form. Sometimes omega-3 capsules are oxidised , therefore when you open a new bottle, take a capsule and chew it, if it is acidic, rancid or nasty, its probably been oxidised. If it’s safe, it will taste fairly bland.
3. Eat saturated fats in reasonable quantities daily: Butter, coconut oil and red palm oil.
Eating saturated fats in reasonable quantities can be protective for health. Coconut oil and red palm oil are saturated fats that are high in medium chain triglycerides (MCT’s) which is an antioxidant that eradicates inflammation in the body. These foods also boost metabolism and stimulate the thyroid. A recent study found that Malayans who ate 30ml of native coconut oil with each meal for a month decreased their waist circumference significantly.
Butter contains fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K in a form that is easily used by the body. It also contains MCT’s and CLA, which is a powerful cancer fighter that aids in muscle development.
Cook using these fats in place of vegetable oils, which are easily oxidised in high temperatures.
4. Always opt for variety when it comes to fat intake: Eat plenty of seeds, nuts, olive oil, and avocado:
Olive oil, avocado, and tree nuts have all been called ‘anti-obesity’ foods by food scientists. They all provide omega-6 fats, which when eaten in balance with omega 3 fats are very good for you. Should have a ratio of 1:4 to 1:6 of omega 6: omega 3.
The confusion in omega 6 fats comes from the Western diet being very high in isolated omega 6 fats such as those in vegetable oils. Those are the ones to avoid.
If you eat these fats with vegetables, the fat bolsters the absorption of the vitamins and nutrients from the veggies.
Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) in omega 6 fat, is necessary for healthy tissue, giving you nice skin, hair and healthy joints. Its hard to get, coming only from primrose oil, blackcurrant seeds, borage seeds, and hemp seeds. So GLA is perhaps another supplement you could consider.
To add seeds to your diet, soak them overnight in water with salt overnight for better absorption and then add them to salads, cooked veggies, or yoghurt. Try Chia, Sesame, and Flax.
5. Eat fat with protein and plants. De-emphasise high-carb foods.
Planning meals around a protein source that naturally contains fat, such as fish, eggs, or whole-fat yoghurt is a simple and delicious way to get amino acids and beneficial fats at once.
When optimising fat intake, it’s important to avoid refined and high-carb foods that are commonly teen with fat, such as toast with butter or eggs. Eating high-carb and high fat foods together is associated with elevated triglycerides, which means you have unhealthy levels of fat in your blood. High triglycerides contribute to the development of heart disease.
Eat an abundance of green leafy vegetables to get your carbs.
One simple tip for portion control for meal times is 1 palm of protein, 4 palms of vegetables and 1 thumb of good fat. This is a simple, effective and individualised way of portion controlling without getting hung up over counting calories and number crunching all the time.
Email me for more advice, tips, or for an initial consultation to get you to your goals.